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Topic: The Fellowship of the Ring: The Prologue - Part 2: Pipeweed, The Ordering of the Shire, and The Finding of the Ring

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Slaves of udun
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Date: Mar 2, 2014
The Fellowship of the Ring: The Prologue - Part 2: Pipeweed, The Ordering of the Shire, and The Finding of the Ring

This is the conclusion to the prologue.  The following questions will be separated by section.

"Concerning Pipe-weed"

1. Tolkien writes "pipe-weed or leaf, a variety probably of Nicotania" Is the word "Nicotania" derived from "nicotine", or is there another origin of the word?

2. "Meriadoc Brandybuck...and the tobacco of the Southfarthing play a part in the history that follows...."  Is Tolkien saying pipe weed is tobacco? Or are they two different things?

3. Is this section really necessary?  We all know Tolkien loved to smoke, but the smoking of pipe-weed really doesn't play a part in the story...does it?

 

"Of the Ordering of the Shire"

4. At the beginning of the second paragraph in this section in says the Shire had hardly any government.  Who, then, divided the Shire into the four Fartherings, as stated in the first sentence?

5. On page 11 Tolkien writes that there are Shirriffs in the Shire (though not many), who are essentially the police. I know we haven't gotten to further chapters yet, but I can't recall the Shirriffs doing anything when the Nazgul were prowling around the Shire.  Thoughts?

 

"Of the Finding of the Ring"

6. Tolkien refers to Sting as an Elvish knife (but a sword for Bilbo's size).  Then there is the chapter "A Knife in the Dark" in which Frodo is stabbed by the Witch King's sword.  Is there reason why Tolkien uses the word "knife", even when referring to weapons that are much larger? Or is the diction completely arbitrary?

7. Tolkien says "Authorities" differ whether Bilbo's riddle "What have I got in my pocket?" is actually a riddle.  Who are these "Authorities"?



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Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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RE: The Fellowship of the Ring: The Prologue - Part 2: Pipeweed, The Ordering of the Shire, and The Finding of the Ring

The chiefest part that Pipe-weed plays in LOTR is the connection that Saruman has with the Shire. He talks crap about it (the Pipe weed) to Gandalf but learns to like it as well and has people buying it for him. In Unfinished Tales it is said that the Nazgul learn of the location of the Shire from the squint eyed southerner who was working for Saruman and transporting the "Leaf" from the Shire. The Nazgul then make the guy a servant of Mordor and he starts being a spy for them in Bree.

#4--it seems like the Hobbits were very clanish...hanging with their own Name's kin. Like the Brandybuck's were in Buckland and so on. Maybe the founders of the Shire (most likely Fallohides) split into their own tribes and took for themselves certain territories and named them after their families...(that's my guess anyhow).

#5--The Sherriffs of a Shire most likely did not win the position by being hardened warriors. They were probably more like gossips...lol, who busied themselves by putting out small fires. Probably no good against something as powerfully frightful as a Nazgul...

#6--in Medieval times it was common for a person (who had such need of things) to have a Sword and also a Knife. The long swords were for combat but the Knives were for the close encounter or kill. Long knives or short Knives were about the length of two hands and short Knives were a Hand and a Half. Anything shorter becomes a dagger.

#7 In Tolkien Letters, it seems that Professor Tolkien frequented groups of writers other than "The Inklings". he was ever on a quest for hearing literature and it turns out that most of the Professors wrote their own works and many times they would share or have recitals and this kind of thing. Maybe these are the "Authorities" unless he's is speaking of his Publishers...I dunno.


Great questions Teralectus.

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Slaves of udun
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So on #7, you think he's referring to real-life people, not people in the book (perhaps those who wrote down records or something)?



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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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1. It is in fact Nicotiana; Nicotiana tabacum is the Latin name of tobacco plant; 'nicotine' is derived from it. Indeed some other Nicotiana species are fragrant garden flowers.

2. It does look like Tolkien plainly calls the pipe weed tobacco in that sentence, as implied by 'the tobacco of the Southfarthing' - the true pipe-weed grown first by Old Toby.

6. Looking into that chapter I am not sure Frodo has been stabbed by the sword. The Nazgul (the Witch-king) that wounded him had a long sword in one hand, but also a knife in the other - and that other hand, along with the knife, glowed with a pale light. The impression is that Frodo has not seen with what blade his shoulder was pierced. Other chapters might tell more?

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Lórellinë

Haldir of Lorien - Rank 6
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6. I thought "knife in the dark" was an idiomatic phrase. Sort of like "a bird in the hand..." I'll look that up.

 

3. It's not necessary to move the story, sort of. Remember in TTT Aragorn wonders about the pipeweed up at Saruman's house. I think it's also there to show what kind of people the Hobbits were, their loves and pastimes.



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Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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Teralectus... about #7...It could be just as you stated "people in the book (perhaps those who wrote down records or something)"

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Haldir of Lorien - Rank 6
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Couldn't there have been authorities on riddles in the Shire? Kind of like the people on the news today who work for the Brookings institute and are authorities on European affairs or such matters.



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Slaves of udun
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As for these questions, I don't have my own theories.  I didn't ask anything I already had an idea on, so thank you all for your input. Jaido, I think it's safe to go ahead and start Chapter 1 discussion in a day or two. Whenever you finish reading it, go ahead and post. Thanks!



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Thank you Teralectus. I will haves something by this evening (PST) in a new thread (as discussed).

Good stuff so far....

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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According to the text what is known about pipe-weed comes from Herblore of the Shire by Meriadoc Brandybuck. Pipe-weed seems to be a plant of the genus Nicotiana.
Or is it?

The plant was probably not native to Middle-earth and may have been brought from over the Sea by the Men of Numenor. Called in Gondor sweet galenas and westmansweed. In the Shire there were several  commercial strains called Longbottom Leaf, Old Toby, and Southern Star to name a few.

Has anybody thought that all Pipeweed was not tobacco?  In the text  "the smoke of the burning leaves of a herb, which they called pipe-weed or leaf, a variety probably of Nicotiana".(The Lord Of The Rings,The Fellowship of the Ring, Book One, Prologue ~ "2. Concerning Pipe-weed",pg 8)

Probably is ambiguous enough to lead to other conjectures. It seems that other leafed plants ... even those with medicinal qualities like athelas, might be gathered and smoked as pipeweed.
Since hobbits were the first it might be that after smoking pipe-weed their appetites were stimulated ... second breakfast or second supper not withstanding ...
it might be the hobbits felt the need to munch!

Just a thought for speculation ...



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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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'Probably' indeed leaves a wide room for interpretation. Merry too thought that this plant was brought to M-e from the West; and there are several things mentioned about it that tend to identify it with the tobacco plant: (1) smoking of it is addictive; it is curiously described how Saruman got addicted to it; (2) it clears mind, I think this is the effect that tobacco smokers report; and (3) the genus has plants with fragrant flowers; and the plant is also a herb (not a tree or say a mushroom). I thought about other plants with like qualities but so far none came to mind, out of those that exist in our reality that is.

Why it might not be athelas, or why athelas may not be another 'tobacco'... Aragorn is a smoker; likely had some pipe-weed with him; yet to treat Frodo's wound he goes to search for athelas and is not trying to use the pipe-weed for that purpose; and doesn't mention that athelas can be used as a pipe-weed... Not that this proves much, and not that no additional 'tobacco' plant could have existed, but Merry in his herblore book would have been likely to point this out.


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